Recently, after a long day, I found myself sitting on the patio enjoying the cool breeze and a whiskey. As I focused on relaxing, I recalled a question someone asked me a long time ago when I was working at a bar in Michigan.
Have you ever thought about getting a real job?”
This wasn’t the first or the last time I heard this question, but for some reason it stuck in my head that day. I knew they weren’t trying to be rude about it, he was just asking if I had ever thought about doing anything else or what my plans were.
I think that question goes through a lot of people’s minds when seeing people in the service industry. Being behind the bar is portrayed as cool. Movies, TV, and magazines have always showed the bartender as the life of the party and throwing money around like it’s a game of monopoly.
I can assure you most bartenders aren’t throwing money around, nor are they always the life of the party. That said, the money is good and at times it doesn’t feel like work. But it is work, and like every job it has a downside.
I started to think about all the great bars and watering holes that Frisco has to offer and the staff that work in those places. I wondered if they had ever been asked the same question?
So, the only thing to do was to go out for a visit and talk amongst my peers. One bartender told me,
I honestly hear this about three times a week. So much I feel like a robot when I answer.”
And another said,
It’s actually started to bother me. After all, I pay my bills with real money from a real job.”
I found the same response from at least five different bartenders in Frisco.
It’s interesting that the stigma about being a bartender is that it’s a “temporary” occupation or a holding place until the “real” job comes along. Then, I started to think about all the restaurants I’ve worked in over the years and the great bars I have worked at here in Frisco.
You can teach anyone to pour a drink, but that doesn’t make them a bartender.
I’ve met so many people behind the bar, and have been lucky enough to work with different people over the years that at times it’s hard to believe that I was making a living while having so much fun.
So why is it that so many people ask that same question? In my opinion as a 37 year-old bartender, manager, General Manager, or whatever hat I’ve worn over the years, the issue is….
The art of bartending is lost. It just isn’t taught anymore.
As it continues to grow, the city of Frisco has been one of the best cities to work in. I’ve learned a lot while living and working here in Frisco, and the people I talk to while behind the bar on a nightly basis have been awesome to serve and take care of. Some of my bar guests are now friends. Not many jobs would present such an opportunity to meet and get to know so many people from all walks of life.
As I thought more about the question that had been asked so many times, I turned some things around and looked at my peers (including myself). Maybe people don’t respect the job, or take it seriously, because we don’t. After talking to some other very respected, qualified, and well-known bartenders in the area, the answer was pretty simple… the art of the craft is gone.
When you sit at the bar and order a drink, you chose to sit there. You could have gone anywhere else, or stayed at home and made yourself a drink, but there’s a reason you came to THIS particular bar. It’s about the conversation, being social, the ambience and experience, and just plain ‘ole having a good time.
I am distinctly aware of the fact that when I pour a beer for someone they could have gone anywhere to have a beer. I’m not pouring the beer in some fancy way or doing anything special with it. But they chose to sit there so we can talk, laugh and have a good time. Not just slam the beer down and never say another word until it’s time to pay.
Sure, I might work at a great place with good drinks, prices, and atmosphere, but if I’m just pouring drinks and making cocktails with no passion, personality, or conversation, my bar is going to be empty pretty fast. Now, don’t get me wrong. At times the bar can be so busy that it’s just about cranking out drinks and moving the line… making sure YOU don’t have to wait on your beverage.
But in that moment, I have the chance to show who I am behind the bar.
Too many times I’ve been on the other side… sitting at a bar and watching the bartender play on their phone, talk to the staff, and not paying attention to my empty glass or me. I’ve seen guests have to wave down a bartender to ask a question and the reaction is a look of inconvenience or annoyance. With the price of alcohol going up all the time and new places to drink opening at a rapid pace, the ART of bartending could not be more important than now.
The bottom line is that if we bartenders treated our job with the respect it deserves and took it more seriously people might change their view on what we do. Sure speed, quality, and knowledge have major roles in the art of bartending, but that can be taught over time.
The most important thing is people. It has and will always be about people and getting to know the guests. This perspective has been lost by many bartenders these days. Take it from someone who has been doing this for a long time… it needs to come back.
So, bartenders… don’t let “real job” question bother you because what you do is a “real” job. If you do it well enough, that question will answer itself.
If you’re in Frisco, and you want to get served by some quality, care-about-their-jobs-and-take-them-seriously bartenders that just love their job and people, stop by to say hello to:
- Anna at Randy’s Steakhouse. Plus,
- the crew at The Frisco Rail Yard, or
- Luke at NOLA’s, to name a few.
Frisco has a great group of bartenders who realize you’re more than just a number or a drink.
In closing, I want to thank all the hard-working people in the service industry for keeping people first and enjoying their job. I want to also thank Frisco for taking care of their bartenders on those long nights. I love this business, and even though there are days I’d rather stay at home, it’s the people that make me get up and do it again.